Identification and Treatment of Pituitary Gland Tumors


Three Types of Pituitary Tumors

Physicians and clinics typically employ a variety of approaches to pituitary gland tumor treatment depending on the type of tumor. The following are three basic types of tumors found in the pituitary gland:

  1. Benign Adenomas: These typically grow slowly and present little immediate threat to the patient
  2. Invasive Tumors: These actively spread locally to attack surrounding tissue and bone, but they are not cancerous in nature
  3. Carcinomas: These can spread throughout the patient’s system

Approximately 7,000 cases of pituitary tumors are diagnosed each year. Pituitary carcinomas are the rarest type, but based on post-mortem examinations, it is estimated that as much as 25% of the population may have undetected benign pituitary tumors.

The Effects of Hormones

Pituitary tumors are further subdivided into functioning and non-functioning categories depending on whether or not they secrete and release hormones into the bloodstream. Functioning pituitary tumors create hormones that typically cause significant symptoms, and non-functioning pituitary tumors produce and release no hormones.

Because the hormones produced by these tumors can affect growth, reproductive systems and other vital physical functions, secreting or functioning tumors can usually be more easily detected by physicians and in clinical environments. Hormones secreted by functioning tumors include the following:

  • Human growth hormone
  • Thyrotropin
  • ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone)
  • Prolactin
  • Other reproductive system hormones

When functioning pituitary tumors secrete these hormones in larger than normal amounts, it can cause a number of physical conditions ranging from headaches, vision loss and weight gain to acromegaly, abnormal lactation and brittle bones.

Pituitary Tumor Treatments

Small nonfunctioning pituitary tumors may not require treatment. However, in most cases, functioning and large pituitary tumors should be assessed by a physician, and a treatment plan should be initiated to reduce the negative effects that these tumors can cause. Treatments include the following:

  • Surgical excision
  • Radiation treatments
  • Drug therapy including chemotherapy
  • Stereotactic radiation surgery trials
  • Combinations of the above methods

Surgical methods typically produce better results than drug therapy or radiation alone, and when combined with these other methods, they can result in complete remission and cessation of symptoms for most patients. Minimally invasive surgical methods have reduced recovery times for patients as well, allowing them to get out of bed and back to their normal routine faster than ever before. The prognosis for most patients suffering from pituitary tumors is brighter today, thanks to pioneering physicians and surgeons who have advanced the state-of-the-art treatments of skull base disorders and cancers.

Jessica writes about a wide variety of topics.  She especially enjoys writing about health. You can learn more about Pituitary Gland Tumor Treatment at


About Medimise

JP studied Health Sciences with the Open University between 2008 and 2011 and attained a Certificate in Health Sciences. Focus areas included T2 diabetes, trauma and repair, pain management, alcoholism, COPD, and cancer diagnosis and treatment. JP has been working as lead editor of several health publications since 2006 and works full time in the health industry.

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